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Review |  04 Mar 2008 00:00 |  By Anuraag

A Spiritual Morning with Rashid Khan

A spiritual morning could not have been better defined than the elevating performance by Rashid Khan that Mumbai witnessed at the Gateway of India, on the first of this month.

At 6:15 in the morning, when the stars were still twinkling in the sky, and the half-moon still shining bright, music enthusiasts were all present, wrapped in shawls, and eager to listen to the maestros poignant, soothing voice.

An exponent of Khayal singing of the Sahaswan-Rampur gharana (tradition), Ustad Rashid Khan is arguably the best vocalist of this generation in the country, his forte being the beauty with which he emotes through his singing; and as they say, a pre-requisite to rendering spiritual music is Bhava (feeling and expression). Accompanying him on the Tabla was one of the best accompanists ?“ Yogesh Samsi; with Ajay Joglekar on the Harmonium, and Murad Ali on the Sarangi.

At 6:45 sharp, when one could hardly see anything beyond a few rows of chairs ahead of them, Rashid Bhai started with a vilambit (slow tempo) bandish (a composition that serves as an outline for a raag), moving on to madhyalaya (mid-tempo), and drut (fast tempo) bandishes in Raag Bhairav. With bandishes like Ek Tu Hi Jagkartaar (You are the only Creator of this world), the Ustad set in motion the spiritual mood of the morning. At the commence of the rendition, one could see the silhouette of the Gateway of India, and on top of it, the moon shining bright yellow. But as time passed by, towards the left of Gateway, one could see the sun rise, and the tranquil rays filling the sky with molten gold.

With the audience swaying to the music, Ustd. Rashid Khan went on to one of the most heart-rending morning raagas, Raag Lalit. In this raag, ustad ji invocated the Gods in his vilambit bandish Karo Avtaar (Please bless us with your incarnation), moving on to a dynamic drut Tarana in the raag leaving the audience in a speechless state of absolute bliss.

With a complete change in mood, Khansaab went on to an uplifting rendition in Raag Deshkar, after which, on public demand, he performed a small piece in Raag Gujri Todi, before moving on to the ceremonious end of most concerts in Hindustani Classical performances ?“ Raag Bhairavi ?“ with a touching bandish - Aaj Radha Brij Ko Chali.

Although one would have expected the maestro to perform rarer raags like Bhatiyar, Ustad Rashid Khan did complete justice to the high expectations that the audience had from him.

It is heartening to see such response in such unconventional concerts, which only make one pray for more of such music treats. God bless the soul of Mr. Shashi Vyas (the Director of the event management organisation Pancham Nishad, and the editor and publisher of the weekly Every Tuesday), for bringing to the layman such beatific music.